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Pensacola Rowing Club Safety Manual

Pensacola Rowing Club Safety Manual

Last Updated: April 26, 2022

"Every member of Pensacola Rowing Club will abide by the principle that preservation of life is more important than a few minutes of practice"


  1. All members, guests, and event participants will read and acknowledge with their signature that they understand and will comply with all club safety rules prior to participating in any club activities. 
  2. Prior to participating in any club activity, all persons will sign the USRowing waiver of liability acknowledging the risks and hazards of rowing. 
    1. Members will sign USRowing waivers annually.
  3. Guests must be accompanied by at least one Member (on land and on water) in order to use any club facilities or equipment.
  4. Safety rules, emergency procedures, local emergency contact numbers (Coast Guard and Police Department), and all safety updates will be visibly posted in the Boathouse. 
    1. All Coaches, Coxswains, and Rowers will check for updates prior to every launch.
    2. All club members will be instructed to add the local Coast Guard and Police Department contact numbers to their personal phone contacts and speed dial.
  5. A list of emergency contact numbers for all members will be maintained through the club’s SportsEngine account. 
  6. All boat use and practices will be recorded in the club Log Book. 
    1. Log entries must include names of all rowers, coxswains, and coaches, boat name(s), date and time of launch, and time of expected return. 
    2. Logging is the responsibility of coaches during official club classes and the responsibility of individual members during Open Rows.
    3. Log entries should never be completed by a guest, as all guests should be accompanied by a member as stated above.
  7. A Safety Committee for Pensacola Club Rowing will exist to ensure this plan is kept current and followed. The safety committee will complete a biannual safety inspection of the facility and equipment and of the requirements in this manual. The committee will be responsible to ensure any required corrective action is completed. Additionally, the safety committee will conduct a seasonal review of this manual and update and redistribute as needed.



  1. All Members will participate in a water safety program upon joining the club. Coaches and the Safety Committee are responsible for ensuring rowers are trained. 
    1. Topics will include:
      1. USRowing Safety Video 
      2. Proper boat handling, navigation rules, and traffic pattern.
      3. Recognition of unsafe weather and water conditions.
      4. Rescue procedures in the water and what to do when a boat flips.
      5. What to do in a wake.
      6. Location of the club first aid kit and encouragement to become First Aid and/or CPR certified
    2. All of these items will also be posted in the boathouse.
  2. Per USRowing guidelines, all members over age 18 will complete the annual training provided by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
  3. All participants of club activities will provide proof of their swimming/flotation ability.
    1. Participants under the age of 18 must complete the club swimming assessment before being permitted to participate in any on-water activities. 
      1. Assessment will include:
        1. Continuous swim for 50 yards using any without aid.
        2. Tread water continuously for 5-minutes.
        3. Put on a life-jacket and secure it while treading water.
      2. Failure of the assessment or failure to complete the assessment will result in participants being required to wear a PFD at all times when on the water.
    2. Adult participants (18 and over) will have the option to sign a waiver stating that they are capable of completing the club swimming assessment. 
      1. Refusal to sign the waiver or complete the assessment will result in participants being required to wear a PFD at all times when on the water.
  4. Every rower that sculls in a single on their own and/or will be sculling a single in PRC owned equipment must complete a PRC Sculling and Safety Assessment. 
    1. Level 1: No prior experience. Must be accompanied by a coach and safety launch at all times when using single scull equipment.
    2. Level 2: Demonstrated basic level of knowledge, experience and skill. Limited equipment use and must always use pontoons when using single scull equipment. Not permitted to row alone.
    3. Level 3: Demonstrated an intermediate level of knowledge, experience and skill. Increased access to equipment. Permitted to row alone when using pontoons. May row without pontoons if accompanied by a Level 4 rower.
    4. Level 4: Demonstrated a higher level of knowledge, experience and skill. Full access to sculling equipment. Permitted to row alone. 
  5. All launches will operate in accordance with applicable USCG safety regulations. All Safety Launches must have the following items at all times: 
    1. Valid registration stickers .
    2. PFDs appropriate to the number of rowers who are not already wearing or carrying a PFD. 
    3. Electronic or cone megaphone.
    4. A tool kit with: 
      1. Standard (½ and 7/16) and/or metric wrenches (10mm). 
      2. At least one adjustable wrench. 
      3. Pliers 
      4. Electrical tape. 
      5. A First Aid Kit 
      6. A flashlight and/or spotlight
      7. A bailer. 
      8. A throwable rescue device such as an approved floating seat cushion 
      9. An anchor with at least 50-feet of anchor line attached to the launch. 
      10. At least one oar or paddle 
      11. Communication devices 
        1. Cellphone
        2. Airhorn
  6. The USRowing Safety Checklist will be posted in the boathouse. All coaches will review this checklist before every practice.
  7. All boats will follow the Bayou Texar traffic pattern. Traffic pattern will be posted visibly in the boathouse.
    1. General Marine Rules of Right of Way: 
      1. Vessels with the least maneuverability have the right-of-way, but should also be cautious and take action to avoid all other types of boats. 
      2. Non-powered boats have the right of way over powered boats.
      3. When in doubt, always safely yield the right of way.
    2. If you are in a dangerous situation where collision is imminent; sound the danger signal with horn or whistle (eight or more short blasts).
    3. What to do in wakes from passing boats:
      1. Steer the shell parallel to the approaching wake.
      2. Stop rowing.
      3. Maintain control of your oar(s) in a set position, and lean slightly away from the approaching wake.



  1. Rowers and coaches must always be aware of weather conditions. Watch for gathering clouds, changes in wind speed/direction, temperature changes, etc. A list of suggested weather apps will be posted in the boathouse. 
  2. Lightning: 
    1. Under no circumstances will any boats launch if lightning is within 10 miles of rowing area. 
    2. If you hear thunder or see lightning, wait 30 minutes before getting on the water.
    3. If you are on the water and see lightning, hear thunder, or notice you hair standing on end with static electricity, head for the nearest shore. 
  3. Wind: 
    1. Boats will not launch in wind conditions greater than 12 mph or gusting greater than 15 mph. 
    2. Verify local wind conditions before launching.
    3. If such conditions are encountered while on the water, return to the dock immediately if safe to do so. Otherwise, row to the nearest shore and wait for wind to subside.
  4. Fog: 
    1. Do not launch in fog conditions such that the shore opposite the launch dock is not visible. 
    2. If fog is encountered while on the water, signal your position with whistle or horn using one prolonged blast (4-5 seconds) followed by two short blasts (one second each). Listen for other whistles or sounds. Return to the boathouse proceeding cautiously and close to shore following traffic pattern. 
    3. If you are in a dangerous situation where collision is imminent; sound the danger signal, eight or more short blasts. 
    4. If lack of visibly warrants, go to shore or shallow water to wait for fog to clear.
  5. Water:
    1. Under no circumstances will any boat launch if there are visible white caps. 
      1. If such conditions are encountered while on the water, return to the dock immediately if safe to do so. Otherwise, row to the nearest shore.
    2. Up to date water quality reports for Bayou Texar will be monitored by the Safety Committee and will be accessible to rowers through the club website.
      1. Instructions on how to use the water quality report and evaluate risk to rowers will also be posted on the club website.
      2. It will be the responsibility of each coach and rower to know and understand the bayou water quality.



  1. Steps for an emergency on the WATER:
    1. Call the USCG
    2. Call appropriate emergency contacts for rowers involved in incident.
    3. File an incident report.
  2. Steps for an emergency on LAND:
    1. Call 911
    2. Call appropriate emergency contacts for rowers involved in incident.
    3. File an incident report.
  3. If a coach is present during an emergency, the coach will direct the rowers in what steps are necessary to remedy the situation and will be responsible for contacting the appropriate emergency services.
  4. All injuries resulting from any club activity must be immediately reported to the Safety Committee and an incident report must be filed. 
  5. Incident Reports must be filed for all boat accidents on and off the water, to include, but not limited to, flipping, swamping, or dropping a boat. 
  6. All Incident Reports will be filed with the City of Pensacola.
  7. All coaches are required to have a cell phone with them at all times on land, in the launch, and/or in a shell.
    1. Rowers are strongly encouraged to take their cell phones with them in a dry bag when on the water without a coach in case of emergency.
  8. Capsizing is almost expected at some point in a single rower’s life on the water. If you flip, stay with the boat. 
    1. If a coaching launch is accompanying the boat, life jackets will be distributed to rowers by the coach from the launch. Once life jackets are distributed, the coach will call for help.
    2. Put on your life jacket and swim the boat to the nearest shore in the same direction as the wind is blowing. Do not leave the boat. Even a swamped or upside down boat will not sink. 
    3. If not accompanied by a coach, once safely to shore call for help, or if it is safe to do so you may right the boat and re-enter. 
  9. If you are rowing with a single sculler and they flip, stay with them to assist.
  10. Heat stroke is life threatening. Symptoms may include confusion, behavior changes, nausea, muscle cramps and dizziness. Always take water in the boat and drink often when rowing in warm weather. Seek medical help immediately for rowers with symptoms.



  1. Club Boats will not be removed from Bayview Park without the approval of the Club Director.
  2. All boats launched must have a bow ball affixed.
  3. Every boat launching must have heel restraints mechanisms in compliance with USRA rules. Coaches, the safety director and committee will assure they are properly maintained and notify the equipment manager if corrective maintenance is necessary.
  4. Rowers in a club owned single or in the bow seat of a club owned sculling boat without a coxswain are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED to use a sculling mirror when a coach and safety launch are not present.
  5. All rowers under the age of 18 will take PFDs with them in the boat if not accompanied by a safety launch. Rowers age 18 and older will be strongly encouraged to take PFDs with them in the boat if not accompanied by a safety launch.
  6. At least one item of high-visibility clothing or reflective material is required on the person of all single and double rowers.
  7. All club members will be taught how to safely land a boat at the dock without damage to the equipment as a both a coxswain and bow seat. 
  8. Prior to going to the dock, all boats are to be put in slings adjust foot stretchers and check for proper working order and loose nuts and bolts on riggers, foot stretchers, tracks and seats.
  9. Boats launching in low light conditions must have a white stern light and red/green bow light attached to the boat. Single scullers will wear a light either on their hat, back or boat.
  10. After rowing, all boats are placed in slings and checked for proper working order and loose nuts and bolts on riggers, foot stretchers, tracks and seats. Boats and oars will be washed with soap and water.
  11. Any and all damage to equipment must be immediately logged and reported.



  1. All gasoline storage will be in a secure, approved storage area and will use approved, flame proof containers.
  2. Fire extinguishers will be present, clearly marked and regularly inspected.
  3. Bays will be kept free of obstacles
  4. Launches will be stored in the designated storage area.
  5. A first aid kit will be maintained in the boathouse and inspected regularly.
  6. An AED will be maintained in the boathouse and will be inspected regularly.
  7. Trash in the boatyard and in the area surrounding the boatyard will be deposited in the appropriate containers.



  1. Oars are taken to the dock prior to taking the boat to the dock.
  2. Rowers are expected to approach the dock with all the equipment they will need to launch in a quick and efficient manner. Water bottles, phones in dry bags, extra clothing, etc., should be on the rower’s person rather than cluttering the dock.
  3. All boats will launch from the dock in a quick and efficient manner.
  4. Incoming boats have dock priority.